Chronic knee pain: Here’s what to do

nerve pain in knee

If a persistent ache accompanies every step you take, you are living the reality of millions who suffer from chronic knee pain. This condition can significantly impact your daily life and overall well-being. It is more than just temporary discomfort. Chronic knee pain is persistent and can bring swelling and stiffness that can last for weeks or even months. It can be caused by a variety of conditions ranging from normal wear and tear of the knee joint to underlying medical conditions and can also affect people of all ages

Symptoms of chronic knee pain 

This condition can manifest in a variety of ways, including:

  • Swelling — Inflammation and fluid buildup can cause visible swelling around the knee joint. 
  • Persistent pain — Constant discomfort in the knee joint can range from a dull ache to a sharp pain and often gets worse with movement. 
  • Stiffness — Knee pain can cause stiffness. This can make it difficult to bend or straighten the knee. Stiffness can be worse after periods of rest. 
  • Cracking or popping noises — Audible noises when you bend and straighten your knee can be an indication of joint issues. 
  • Instability — Chronic knee pain can make you feel like your knee may give way. This experience can make it more challenging to stand or walk. 

What can cause chronic knee pain? 

Chronic knee pain can be caused by a variety of issues, including:

  • OsteoarthritisOsteoarthritis is a leading cause of chronic knee pain, affecting 365 million people. Osteoarthritis is caused by the degeneration of the cartilage in the knee joint. This degeneration results in bone-on-bone contact and pain. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis — Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. It causes inflammation in the knee joint, leading to pain and stiffness. It affects 1.5 million Americans
  • Injuries Ligament tears or fractures can result in extended pain even after healing. These injuries can include fractures, dislocated kneecaps and torn ligaments.
  • Overuse — Overuse of the knee joint is commonly seen in athletes due to the repetitive stress that can be placed on their knee joints. 
  • Obesity — Being 10 pounds overweight can add up to 50 extra pounds of pressure on your knees. 

Factors that can aggravate chronic knee pain 

Certain factors can make this condition worse, such as:

  • High-impact activities — High-impact activities like running or jumping can increase the stress on the knees, which can cause pain to become worse.
  • Improper footwear — Wearing unsupportive or ill-fitting shoes can affect your gait. An unbalanced gait can also affect knee alignment and make knee pain worse.
  • Cold weatherCold weather can cause stiff joints, which can intensify discomfort.

Who is vulnerable to chronic knee pain?

Chronic knee pain can affect anyone of any age, but certain factors can increase your risk, including:

  • Age — Aging can lead to natural wear and tear of the joints. This can make older adults more susceptible to chronic knee pain and other knee conditions.
  • Gender — Women can be more susceptible to chronic knee pain and knee issues due to hormonal factors and body structure differences 
  • Injuries — If you have experienced previous knee injuries, you could be more likely to develop chronic knee pain. This knee pain can be even more likely if your knee injury is not properly treated. 

Can chronic knee pain be avoided?

While some risk factors are out of your control, there are several measures you can take that can help reduce the likelihood of developing this issue. Preventive measures can include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Low-impact exercises.
  • Proper footwear.
  • Protective gear.

Treatment options that can help manage chronic knee pain

There are a variety of options available to help manage your pain. The approach to help manage your knee pain can vary depending on the underlying issue that is responsible for the pain. Treatments used to help address chronic knee pain can include:

  • Physical therapy.  
  • Medications.
  • Weight management.
  • Heat and cold therapy.
  • Orthopedic devices. 
  • Corticosteroid injections.
  • Surgery, in extreme cases.

It’s essential to work with your health care provider or orthopedic specialist to determine the best treatment plan for your specific condition. A customized approach can provide you with the best results to help manage your chronic knee pain. 

Physical therapy treatments to help chronic knee pain 

Physical therapy can be a beneficial treatment option to help manage your pain. Physical therapists can use a variety of techniques to help address your pain, improve your mobility and boost your overall quality of life. Techniques used can include:

  • Therapeutic exercises — Your physical therapist can guide you through targeted exercises intended to help strengthen the muscles around your knee. They can also show you gentle stretches that can help improve your flexibility and joint mobility. These exercises and stretches can help reduce stiffness and discomfort in your knee joint. 
  • Manual therapy — Physical therapists frequently use manual therapy techniques like soft tissue mobilization and joint mobilization to help manage chronic knee pain. These techniques can help alleviate pain, reduce muscle tension and improve joint movement. 
  • Aquatic therapyAquatic therapy can use the buoyancy and resistance of water to reduce the impact on the knee joints. This can allow you to perform exercises with less strain on your knees, making movements easier and less painful. 

Excel Sports & Physical Therapy can treat your chronic knee pain

Excel Sports & Physical Therapy can help you reclaim your life from chronic knee pain. Our expert team of physical therapists can help uncover the root cause behind your chronic knee pain. Uncovering the underlying issue allows them to design a customized treatment plan to help ensure that you receive the best treatment for your condition. Together, we can take the first step toward healing and reclaiming your life. The freedom of movement is in your grasp. 

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.